SOUND + VISION | TONY OURSLER’S ‘OBSCURA’ AT GALERIE HANS MAYER, GERMANY

April 6, 2014  |  art

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The Obscura is the manifestation of an ongoing project in renowned AV artist Tony Oursler's oeuvre, addressing the position of the viewer in relation to the spectacle of current pop cultural viewing trends. In this installation at Galerie Hans Mayer in Düsseldorf, Germany, , which consists of projections of eyes onto spheres of varying dimensions, Oursler explores our relationship to multimedia screens, including televisions, computers, smart phones, and cinema, as his subject matter for this large scale installation. Oversized representations of eyes are formed by projecting pre-recorded images onto large fiberglass spheres, which are suspended in space as well as spread throughout the gallery's walls and floor. Each depiction becomes a macro portrait of a moment of consumption, as the transfixed eye reveals the off screen focus of its gaze in a small reflection onto the surface of the cornea. On each eye clues to the specific content of the viewers fascination can be seen, for example the eyes are variously viewing; surfing the internet, watching horror movies, science fiction, nature films, computer graphics, weather system, social media, etc. These tiny reflections within the eyes are accompanied by a distant soundtrack, which pervades the installation.

The artist has equated the anatomical apparatus of the eye as the human embodiment of optical systems, such as the camera obscura. Within this installation the dilation and constriction of the pupil and iris become an extension of that technological system and are emblematic of our deeply human need to consume unending steams of images and narratives. The position of the visitor is highlighted as they move through this constellation of eyes, forming a recursive and voyeuristic loop. Thematically the artist highlights the dilemma of technological interconnectivity, which allows instant communication and gratification, that leaves the participant connected yet somehow isolated. Oursler began his exploration of eyes in 1995, and has continued to rework and expand upon the themes and technologies presented in this series.

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